Drive-thru vaccine clinic at Warren’s City Hall suspended

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published April 13, 2021

 In a joint statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, officials recommended a pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pending the additional review of data involving “a rare and severe type of blood clot” in six individuals who received the vaccine. All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48.  As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered in the U.S., according to the statement. 

In a joint statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, officials recommended a pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pending the additional review of data involving “a rare and severe type of blood clot” in six individuals who received the vaccine. All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48. As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered in the U.S., according to the statement. 

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WARREN — The drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Warren’s City Hall parking structure was suspended indefinitely April 13 at the recommendation of federal health officials, citing a need for further review of the data involving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In a joint statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, officials recommended a pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pending the additional review of data involving “a rare and severe type of blood clot” in six individuals who received the vaccine. All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48. As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered in the U.S., according to the statement.

“With the news this morning from the federal government about Johnson & Johnson, we’re going to suspend that site while we evaluate our options,” said Brandon Lewis, director of emergency management and communications for Macomb County, last week. “They were scheduled to give the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Out of an abundance of caution, we’re going to suspend that site this week while we work to figure out whether or not we can do an alternative clinic at that location with one of the other vaccines available to us.”

Lewis said logistical issues of supply, storage, handling and scheduling of alternate vaccines would have to be managed.

“Pfizer and Moderna are both two doses and we need to be able to schedule return visits,” Lewis said. “They each have unique storage and handling instructions so we have to make sure we’re equipped to do that at that site before we release those vaccines there.”

The drive-thru site in Warren, offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by appointment only, was announced by the Macomb County Health Department on March 30 and was scheduled to run from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays beginning April 8 for four consecutive weeks. Officials said previously the site had the capacity to deliver 2,000 doses per week.

Lewis said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was administered at the site during the clinic’s first week, which ran April 8-11, with no reported issues.

He said two other sites affiliated with the Macomb County Health Department — the Richmond-Lenox EMS drive-thru vaccination center and the Sterling Heights Senior Center — where the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was being administered were successfully transitioned to Pfizer. As a result, operations at those sites continued, and there were no cancellations.  

For the Warren drive-thru site, Lewis said no cancellations would be needed because appointments for April 15-18, the next round of scheduled dates there, had not yet been made available through the county’s system.

The county’s other site in Warren, at the Majestic Plaza on Van Dyke Avenue, south of 12 Mile Road, continues to operate by appointment only, offering the Pfizer vaccine.

“It’s common for regulators to investigate any sign of possible concern,” Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said on April 13. “This is clearly a rare condition affecting only six people out of 7 million people that have taken it in the U.S. But it’s better to pause at this point and wait to see if this is OK to continue.

“We will resume distribution of vaccines when it’s proven beyond a doubt that it is safe to do so. We are also planning on having another vaccine fair with the Pfizer vaccine later this month,” Fouts said.

Appointments are required for all county-affiliated vaccination sites. No walk-up appointments are available. Officials said appointments are added randomly each day at individual sites to ensure equal access, subject to vaccine availability.  

People who live or work in Macomb County can make an appointment through the online scheduler at www.macombgov.org/covidvaccine. The scheduler allows those making appointments to select their vaccination site and is available any time with new appointments added daily. Changes are made in real time, so eligible residents are encouraged to check the system frequently.

People 60 and older, 50 and older with preexisting medical conditions and 16 and older with disabilities and/or medical conditions necessitating transportation assistance to get a vaccine are encouraged to register with the SMART Bus Macomb Vaccine Registration Line. Those registered will be contacted by the Macomb County Health Department to schedule an appointment when one is available. To register, visit www.smartbus.org/macombvaccine or call (586) 421-6579.

For more information about county-affiliated vaccination efforts, visit www.macombgov.org/vaccinecentral.

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